El Niño: Spanish for bad skiing

January 12, 2010

Last week I noticed that Mount Hood Meadows is offering a deal for a discounted spring ski pass. Here’s how it works: if you commit to plunking down $119 by January 31 for the pass, come March 1, you can ride the lifts until the end of the ski season, which for the past couple of years at least has extended into May.

Normally, I’d say a deal like this would be a no brainer. But this season is shaping up to be anything but normal. And over the weekend, as I once again decided that cleaning out my garage was a better use of my time than heading up to Hood to ski, a little voice began to whisper inside my head. That voice belonged to Chris Farley. “The Niño,” he repeated over and over again.

See below to experience what I did.

And while I chuckled, the reality on the mountain is pretty grim. Thanks to this year’s winter-wrecking weather pattern, checking the snow report brings about as much joy as stubbing my pinky toe. Sure, there were noteworthy dumps in November. But that’s a distant memory now.

Skibowl was forced to shut down for several days last week. Biblical deluges of warm rain have pummeled their base down to an anemic 25-inches. In fact, conditions are so bad the Mountain Shop’s Tele Tuesday event I had so been looking forward to attending tonight got canceled. And Skibowl is closed again today.

Things aren’t faring much better over at Meadows where reports warn of straying from the groomers, lest you shatter your teeth while rattling around on some of the surliest Cascade Concrete ever formed.

Meanwhile, Cooper Spur, which has a feeble 6-inch base, hasn’t even opened yet. And further north in Vancouver, the ceaseless flow of warm air is even conspiring to sabotage events at the Winter Olympics.

Still, like a Saint Bernard drooling at the foot of a dinner table, I continue to stare up towards Mount Hood, scanning for any sign that the next bank of clouds holds some snow.

But until the next Canadian cold front charges in, I’ll be out in my garage rearranging my recycling pile for the umpteenth time and wiping the dust off my skis, not to mention cranking the volume on my iPod to eardrum-cracking heights, or at least until I can drown the sound of Chris Farley’s voice out of my head.

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